I got this email from a friend who used to own a travel agency here in Manila. The email she got from her former boss who is a respected player in the travel agency sector. Other than that, I have no way of verifying how true this story is, but judging from the quality of governance in this country, especially the Bureau of Customs, I think this story is between 90 to 100 percent correct.
Here's the message, my English translation (for my non-Filipino reader friends) of the Filipino sentences below it.
Would like to share with you what we found out as the reason why cruise ships of the big cruise companies skip Manila . My wife and I are regular cruisers and we always talk to the Filipino crew. When we took the 12-day Mediterranean cruise I asked the Pinoy waiters (because we are in a big group, we usually request for Pinoy waiters to be assigned to us) why all their Asian cruises skip Manila when they go to all the neighboring countries of the Philippines . Tanong ko bakit ba wala sa itinerary ninyo ang Manila .
Ang sagot sa akin: Noong una ho may cruises kami na humihinto sa Manila but masyadong hong matakaw ang mga taga Customs sa atin kaya ang management ho namin nag decide na skip na ang Manila. When inspection time comes upon our arrival and departure, yung mga Customs inspectors ho kasama ang mga pamilya nila para kumain ng libre sa ship namin. Tapos bago mag bigay ng clearance para maka depart ang ship namin maraming hinihingi na sigarilyo at mga alak.. Sa Manila lang namin na
experience ang ganoon kaya nahihiya ho kaming mga Pinoy dito sa ship. Sa ibang ports sa Asia wala hong nang hihingi.
The new cruise ships have an everage of 2,000 to 3,000 passengers. Imagine the loss of tourism revenue for the Philippines because most cruise ships do not go to the Philippines . Pero paano mapapatino ang mga taga Customskung ang manga taga Malacanang, Congreso, governors, mayors who should set good example sa government service pareho din nila at mas malaki pa ang kurakot?
Author: Why is Manila not in your itinerary?
Filipino crew: Earlier, we have cruise ships that stop in Manila, but the (Bureau of) Customs people are too greedy, so our management decided to skip Manila. When inspection time comes upon our arrival and departure, the Customs inspectors bring their families to eat free in our ship. And before they give the clearance for departure, they ask for lots of free cigarettes and liquor. We only experience that in Manila and we Filipino crews are ashamed in the ship. In other Asian ports, no one extorts.